Commercial vehicle sales were stellar in 2018. On the whole, sales of Class 4-8 trucks were up 17.5% compared to 2017. Class 4-7 truck sales were up 6.5% and Class 8 truck sales were up by a whopping 30.3% compared to 2017.
Throughout most of the year, manufacturers struggled to keep up with customer demand for Class 8 trucks, and order backlogs continue to extend well out into 2019. This strong demand also increased the price and scarcity of used Class 8 trucks. A one-time boost to economic growth from new tax laws and strong freight demand helped push Class 8 truck sales to their best sales year since 2006.
We expect economic growth to cool slightly in 2019, but expanding construction and manufacturing sectors will spur demand for freight hauling. Additionally, consumer demand for online shopping will only continue to increase, leading to more sales of commercial trucks for both regional and last-mile delivery.
We remain concerned about potential tariffs on imported autos and auto parts, which could increase costs on some trucks and cause ripple effects to consumer demand throughout the economy. On the whole, our outlook for truck sales in 2019 is positive. For 2019, we expect sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks to come in at or slightly above their 2018 levels.